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Hyperion Records

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Track(s) taken from CDA67484
Recording details: June 2004
Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: November 2006
Total duration: 11 minutes 40 seconds

'The music shimmers through two massive climaxes before closing in the rapt hush with which it began. The BBC Scottish SO's performances are simply wonderful; full praise to Ilan Volkov for two well prepared and keenly felt interpretations. The sound is superlative, too' (Gramophone)

'Powerfully projected by the present performers and makes one eager to hear more orchestral works by this fascinating figure' (BBC Music Magazine)

'Ilan Volkov's beautifully conducted recording' (The Guardian)

'This revelatory new release from a major orchestra … I attribute the fact that the work seems far more epic in scale than its 11-odd minutes would suggest to its teeming wealth of detail; there is never a dull moment, and once again credit must go to Volkov and the Scottish team for allowing all of it to rise to the surface without ever compromising the work's internal balance. This is resonantly vital music, performed with passion and beautifully recorded by Hyperion' (International Record Review)

'Beautifully recorded, it is played with clarity and zest. (Just listen to the clarinet propelling the Chamber Symphony's Scherzo.) Ilan Volkov, 31 this year … is clearly a man to watch. In sum, this is a distinguished addition to a neglected composer's growing catalog' (Fanfare, USA)

'Leave it to Hyperion to come up with another first-class presentation of forgotten but fascinating music … shimmering sonic fabrics flow into powerfully ecstatic climaxes, often with dancelike rhythms predominating … the performance … is superb in every way, and Hyperion's engineering is some of the best on standard CD today. Highly recommended to the orchestrally curious' (Audiophile Audition, USA)

'We owe Volkov, Hyperion, and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra a major debt of gratitude for managing this intrepid and wholly successful musical rescue operation with such conviction' (

'Superbly played and recorded … a 'best of the year' release' (

'L'oeuvre [Aux heures de la nouvelles lune] se présente comme un nocturne, une musique extatique, nettement scriabinenne d'ambiance et laissant poindre un climat volontiers sinistre … publication indispensable pour les musicologues …' (Diapason, France)

In the hours of the New Moon
? 1910/3

Introduction  EnglishFrançaisDeutsch
The symphonic poem In the hours of the New Moon (Russian: V chasi novolunya) is one of Roslavets’s earliest surviving works, written (or at least begun) while he was still a student at Moscow Conservatory. (Dates suggested for the work range from 1910 to 1913.) There is no evidence that it was ever performed in the composer’s lifetime, and very little is known about it except what can be deduced from the score itself. It is not even clear if the title is merely descriptive, or a quotation: but it is certainly appropriate for a work which seems to present itself as an ecstatic but perhaps ultimately rather sinister nocturne. The manuscript of the symphonic poem languished for many years in the Central State Archives of the USSR, and is here recorded based on the reconstruction and editing work carried out by Dr Marina Lobanova.

Written for a large orchestra, it clearly manifests a number of contemporary influences, above all that of Scriabin, whose Poem of Ecstasy had been premiered in 1908; but also the French Impressionist composers, particularly Debussy and Ravel, and perhaps, too, the heady orchestral textures of Richard Strauss and Franz Schreker. If the latter were not direct influences, they were contemporary parallels—and for another we should remember that In the hours of the New Moon is an exact contemporary of Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird. The magical, nocturnal, Impressionistic aspects of that work derive much more from Rimsky-Korsakov, of whom there are few traces in Roslavets’s score. In purely Russian terms, therefore, Roslavets here shows himself the more cosmopolitan composer.

The work has a clear ternary form, beginning and ending with slow-moving but lustrous Lento music. The initial quiet brass chord, of two perfect fourths separated by a tritone, is the harmonic foundation of the piece. The rustling string figurations, tremulous flutes, rising trumpet-calls (shades of Poem of Ecstasy) are joined by shimmering harp and celesta in a sonic fabric of remarkable delicacy, showing Roslavets’s sure command of a large orchestra. Ostinato figures build to a tumultuous but harmonically static tutti climax, which then dissipates into a languorous episode centred around woodwind solos, especially from the cor anglais. This gives way to an Allegro, soon increasing speed to Presto, which forms a central scherzo-like episode. This is certainly a dance (of elves, moon-sprites or more sinister figures) in a lively 3/8 time—the most Impressionistic music in the work but reminiscent particularly of Debussy’s ballet Jeux (1912), a work Roslavets presumably could not have known. There is a return to the opening Lento material, its various elements heard now in similar but slightly different relationships, rising once again to an overwhelming climax, a varied intensification of the climax in the first section. It is broken off abruptly; the quiet, hushed conclusion unwinds back to the soft brass chord with which the work began.

For all the picturesque and free-form aspects of this piece, it has a firm structural basis and indeed much of Roslavets’s output is concerned with his personal treatment of sonata-based genres.

from notes by Calum MacDonald © 2006

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